Running at the Sunshine
was conceived as an imagined community behind the doors (and up the stairs) of the incongruously named Sunshine Hotel, one of the last remaining men's flophouses on Manhattan's Bowery -- a point on a late-night ramble from Chinatown to a greasy taco stand in the Village. These fantasies were later bolstered by an NPR documentary, and a wonderful book of photographs ("Flophouse" by David Isay, Stacy Abramson, and Harvey Wang), which uncovered links to a New York of a bygone era.
With the story and text in place, choreographer-director Judith Chaffee
and composer (and my old friend) Matthew Van Brink
worked closely together to realize the story in space and sound. Employing a deep percussion arsenal, Van Brink evokes a still clattering, post-industrial New York filled with squealing breaks, rusty dumpsters, and the undergridding rhythmic bustle of a city filled with permanent transients.
The premiere February 2003 production at Boston University, from which this release was taken, combined taped voice-overs, live speaking and movement, recorded music, and extensive lighting to create a piece of dance-theater.